Skip to main content

About this Show

PBS News Hour

News/Business. Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Jeffrey Brown. (2013) Increase in requests for gun licenses; arguments for and against concealed-carry laws. New. (CC) (Stereo)

NETWORK
PBS

DURATION
01:00:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 15 (129 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
528

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Suarez 10, Us 8, Michael Moss 6, Syria 6, Paul Howard 6, Scott 5, Ron Pollock 5, U.s. 5, New York 4, Washington 4, Texas 4, California 4, Dr. Dietz 3, Assad 3, Oscar 3, Warner 3, Illinois 3, Pbs Newshour 2, Margaret Warner 2, Ray Suarez 2,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  PBS    PBS News Hour    News/Business. Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Jeffrey Brown.   
   (2013) Increase in requests for gun licenses; arguments for...  

    February 21, 2013
    5:30 - 6:30pm PST  

5:30pm
that's all for this edition of "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. do stay with us.
5:31pm
5:32pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: a new study says fast food makes up about 11% of the american diet, less than before but not by much. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> suarez: and i'm ray suarez. on the "newshour" tonight, we sort through what all this means for america's obesity problem in children and adults. >> woodruff: then, we look at health care for the pooras florida's republican governor is the latest to embrace the obama administration's program to expand medicaid. >> suarez: margaret warner gets an update on the syrian civil war, as attacks on damascus escalate and the deadliest car bomb to date rocks the capital. >> woodruff: our week long focus
5:33pm
on guns, "after newtown" continues with two reports: first, the state of play in florida, which has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the u.s. >> nothing really truly equalizes a smal petite woman with someone who's 6'3, 230 pounds who's angry except a firearm. >> those weapons often times fall in the hands of bad folks in our communities. >> suarez: hari sreenivasan brings together high school students from across the country to talk about guns and violence. >> woodruff: and as oscar night nears, tony scott, movie critic for the "new york times," gives us his take on the latest buzz about wild cards and front runners. that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪
5:34pm
moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
5:35pm
>> suarez: there may be hope yet for bringing the national epidemic of obesity under control. at least, the latest numbers on calories and fast food, released today, indicated possible progress. for years, health officials have warned about americans' growing girth. now, research from the centers for disease control and prevention suggests the fight against fat may be having an effect. among the findings: american children consumed fewer calories in 2010 than a decade before-- 7% less for boys and 4% less for girls. and for adults, fast food accounted for just over 11% of the calories consumed in 2010, down from nearly 13% in 2006. the researchers acknowledge the changes are small and can't be fully explained. but public campaigns against obesity have intensified in recent years. last september, for instance, new york city's board of health limited sugared drinks and sodas
5:36pm
to 16 ounces or less. mayor michael bloomberg praised the prohibition that takes effect march 12th. >> this is the single biggest step any city i think has taken to curb obesity, but certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take. and we believe that it will help save lives. >> suarez: and today, continuing her long-running "let's move" campaign, first lady michelle obama-- along with big bird of "sesame street"-- issued new public service announcements encouraging kids to get active and eat healthy. >> no matter what your age, it's important to get your body moving every single day to help keep you healthy. >> look, mrs. obama, i'm getting moving right now by jogging! >> suarez: if a "healthy" trend is developing, it still has a long way to go. as of 2012, the c.d.c. estimated more than one-third of american adults and one out of three of children were obese. we examine today's numbers and the larger challenges obesity
5:37pm
still presents with two people who have studied the epidemic closely. michael moss is a pulitzer prize winning writer for the new york times. his new book "salt, sugar, fat. how the food giants hooked us." looks at how companies have contributed to weight gain. and dr. william dietz is the former director of the division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity at the c.d.c. michael moss, let me start with you. i know there are caveats and things to be further explained, but just the gross statistics: adults consuming fewer calories from fast food, children consuming fewer calories overall. that's good news, isn't it? >> well, that's fabulous news for nutritionistsho are concerned about these foods. i mean, these are among the foods that we all hate to love because they're cal or willally dense. they pack in huge amounts of sugar, fat, and salt into small packagings and no doubt have
5:38pm
contributed greatly to the obesity epidemic as well as other health concerns, diabetes, etc., in this country. >> suarez: dr. dietz, is there a "not so fast" moment waiting here? are you worried about getting too happy about this report? >> i'm not sure this is good news. when we look at the obesity statistics, the prevalence, the frequency has stayed flat in girls and has s increasing in boys. but with a decrease of 150 calories in boys and 80 calories in girls-- which this study demonstrated-- we would expect weight loss. the only way that we can explain the decline in calories and the increase in obesity in boys, flat in girls, is that physical activity has declined and if that's thecation, that's a real concern because physical activity plays a major role in the prevention of chronic diseases, including obesity. >> suarez: so what's the assignment now? is it stringing together more years of that declining
5:39pm
consumption along with, as you suggest, increased physical activity? >> well, for sure we need to decrease consumption, particularly of specific products which contribute excessive calories for the diets of children and adolescents. >> suarez: carb consumption as well. >> well, sugar drinks are the main source of sugar but pizzas and other big sources of calories haven't gotten as much attention. by the same token, we need to increase physical activity. because physical activity reduces the risk factors associated with obesity like elevated cholesterol, like elevated insulin and glucose levels, like elevated blood pressure. >> suarez: michael moss, along with knowing the raw statistics, is it important to know why? could it be from economic factors that a lot of people just had less money to spend on all kinds of things, including food? or would you want to know that it's the fact that the messages from the big voices in the culture finally are taking hold? >> you know, americans are becoming much more nceed bouthe food that we put in
5:40pm
our mouths but, yes, there's a couple cautionary notes beyond those mentioned by dr. dietz. one, the data comes from the recession period when people are trying to save money by cutting back on eating out of the home. the other cautionary note is the question, you know, what were they replacing these fast foods with? and in my reporting for the book i found that over the years recently fast food type products have been moving into the grocery store where you see more entirely prepared meals ready to eat in the school lunchroom or at home that have almost caloric loads as fast food restaurants so it becomes a question of, okay, you're cutting back fast food but what are you replacing with those and are those healthier for people? >> suarez: do you agree there's a lot more we have to know in order to understand what's going on here? >> oh, absolutely we do. but i think that the concern i
5:41pm
have that about the potential explanation for these findings-- that is a decrease in physical activity-- should increase the urgency of restoring physical education programs to schools of restoring recess to schools. of making our communities more physical activity friendly. >> suarez: do you worry about the trend that michael moss brought up of well, maybe we're going to fast food restaurants less often but the food we're buying to eat at home is more like fast food food? >> absolutely. i think the food companies as michael has pointed out, have painted themselves into a corner because the same charactistics or the same nutrients which make food so tasty-- that is salt, sodium, and fat, are the same characteristics that make them unhealthy. so his point about what people are replacing those foods with is well taken. >> suarez: one of the less ballyhooed statistics was that
5:42pm
people who were already obese consumed more fast food in this same period. and these are the people who were already in danger, weren't they? >> it's so distressing to hear that, too, becauswiin the food industry the heavst consumers, the heaviest consumers of the worst foods are typically referred to by companies as "heavy users" and companies who who put most of their marketing and efforts on encouraging those consumers to maintain their high levels of consumption and you see that across the board whether it's grocery manufacturers or fast food, concerns focusing on those people who are eating a lot because it makes more economic sense for companies to focus their marketing on those individuals and as you point out those are the people who should be least eating those foods, the people we should be most concerned about. so in the grocery store when you see low-fat products, low sugar products, alternatives to the mainline items companies sell, often the people eating those
5:43pm
are the people we least need to have eating those. >> suarez: so is the food industry on board or not on getting americans to eat healthier and weigh less? >> well, i think it's -- certainly some companies are doing more than others but they have gotten the message both, i think, from the public health advocates and increasingly from the public that things need to change. the question is how rapidly are they changing and how big a difference will those changes make? >> suarez: michael moss, i cut you off. >> well, one of the problems for the companies is they're beholden not only to consumers but to wall street and the fierce competition among companies themselves and their obligation to shareholders to keep profits up has also boxed in these companies as they move forward and decide how much can they afford to pull back on these loads of salt, sugar, fat,
5:44pm
in order to create a healthier product without jeopardizing sales. >> suarez: with all your cautions in mind we'll keep an eye on this. michael moss, dr. dietz, thank you both. >> very welcome. >> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": embracing government health care for the poor; the ever more deadly syrian civil war; florida's liberal gun laws; teens on gun violence. plus, oscar wild cards and front runners. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: a new winter storm blasted its way across the nation's midsection today, bringing heavy snow, freezing rain and even thunder and lightning. weather warnings and watches extended to at least 20 states, from new mexico all the way to virginia. in parts of kansas and colorado the snow fell at a rate of more than two inches an hour. it caused whiteout conditions, shutting down highways, schools and some state legislatures. forecasters said the system will push on to the great lakes and appalachians, with a spin-off storm dumping heavy snow on new england. the snowfall in the plains brought some relief to the
5:45pm
drought stricken region, but not enough. in fact, government climate experts warned the drought is likely to continue through at least spring. drought conditions are also expected to spread to california, texas and florida. currently, just over half of the u.s. is affected by some form of drought, but that's down from last year. the u.s. chamber of commerce and the a.f.l.-c.i.o. have agreed on principles for a key part of immigration reform: letting in more lower-skilled workers. the two groups called today for a new worker visa program that makes it easier to hire foreign workers when americans are not available to fill jobs. the principles also envision a federal bureau to track labor market needs and shortages. the focus of the gun control debate shifted back to connecticut today. vice president biden attended a conference in danbury, just miles from sandy hook elementary school, where 26 people were killed last december. biden urged support for the administration's proposals to curb gun violence and he warned there is a moral price to pay for inaction.
5:46pm
>> the president is absolutely determined, that the loudest voices will be for the voices of the people who lost their voice. they will be the loudest voices in this debate. we intend to speak for them; enough is enough. we have an obligation to act. and we are taking that obligation seriously, responsibly, and we're acting expeditiously. >> sreenivasan: we'll have more from our "after newtown" series later in the program. gunfire erupted in the heart of the las vegas strip before dawn today and when it was over, three people were dead and at least six injured. the shooting sent a maserati crashing into a taxi, sending that car up in flames. police said someone in a black range rover had opened fire on the maserati near several major casinos. there was no word on a motive. police in nevada and neighboring southern california were on the lookout for the range rover. in southern india, a double bombing killed at least a dozen and injured scores more. the targets were a movie theater and a bus station in hyderabad,
5:47pm
a city that's a major center for information technology. indian authorities said the explosives were attached to bicycles that had been parked in a busy market. they were detonated minutes apart. there were startling numbers today on this season's flu vaccine. the u.s. centers for disease control and prevention reported that among seniors, the vaccine works just 9% of the time against the most common and virulent flu strain of the season. that's the one causing most of the illnesses this year. for all age groups, the vaccine has been about as effective as in previous years. in economic news, first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, signaling that the recovery is still moving slowly. the news put a damper on wall street. the dow jones industrial average lost nearly 47 points to close at 13,880 the nasdaq fell almost 33 points to close at 3,131. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: and we turn to the battles playing out over the health reform law and particularly the expansion of
5:48pm
the medicaid program. many republican governors have long insisted they would not participate. but some of those more prominent opponents are shifting their position. now that includes the governor of the state that first brought suit against obamacare. florida's governor rick scott has been one of the st val critics of president obama's healthcare law. >> this is going to be devastating for patients. >> woodruff: but yesterday, he reversed his decision to block the expansion of medicaid. >> while the federal government is committed to paying 100% of the cost of new people in medicaid, i cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care. we will support a three-year expansion of our medicaid program under the new healthcare law, as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100% of the cost during this time. >> woodruff: scott, up for re- election next year, is the
5:49pm
seventh g.o.p. governor of late to accept the medicaid expansion. arizona's jan brewer, ohio's john kasich and michigan's rick snyder have also reversed their decision recently. scott's move is also significant because florida has one of the nation's highest level of uninsured residents. more than a million people could be added to the state's medicaid rolls, potentially funneling an estimated $73 billion in federal money to the state over a decade. medicaid, the joint federal and state program that provides health coverage for low income families and those with disabilities, is key to the president's affordable care act. the congressional budget office projects 12 million americans will gain coverage through medicaid expansion. starting in 2014, the federal government will pick up 100% of the cost. by2017, e governnt's share
5:50pm
starts to ramp down, so that by 2020, moving forward, washington will pay 90% of the tab with states picking up the other 10%. but many republican governors said this summer they would not opt into the medicaid expansion after the supreme court ruled states could opt out and not be penalized. texas governor rick perry was among them. the state leads the nation in the number of uninsured residents some six million. >> the idea of expanding medicaid, we're not going to do it in texas. >> woodruff: to date, at least a dozen republican governors are declining to take part in the expansion. and even in states like florida, it still must be approved by state legislatures. we take a closer look now at the shift by scott and others and
5:51pm
the choices states face ahead of next year's roll-out of the new health care law. we get two views. paul howard is senior fellow and director of the center for medical progress at the manhattan institute, a conservative policy research center. and ron pollock is executive director of families u.s.a. a health care consumer advocacy group which worked to help pass the law. and gentlemen, we welcome you both to the newshour. >> thank you. >> pelley: ron pollock, let me start with you: what's your reaction to tis announcement from governor scott? >> i think it's a hallelujah moment. i think it's terrific. i think this means that we're going to see states all across the country, i think, follow what governor scott has done. as you aptly indicated, florida was the state that first went to court to challenge the constitutionality of the affordable care act. it was that case that went to
5:52pm
the supreme court. so this is a big deal. and mind you, for floridians this is enormous, because if you've looked at the eligibility sndards that exist today th're really meager for parents, for example, in a three-person family. they're ineligible for health coverage under medicaid if they have incomes over $11,000. for people who are -- don't have any children, it makes no difference what their income is, they're ineligible for medicaid. so this would be an improvement. >> woodruff: i want to ask you about eligibility. paul howard, how do you see this decision by governor scott in florida? >> well, i think it's obviously a political decision on the part of the governor who's facing low approval ratings in the sta and trying to do something to elevate his stature and perhaps move to the center. i think it's a mixed bag for florida. you want to expand coverage to low income americans but florida as a whole spends about a third of its budget on medicaid. it's the largest expenditure and
5:53pm
it's crowding out other spending on things like education and infrastructure. that's a story repeated across the country not just in republican or g.o.p. states like florida but in new york and illinois and california. so this is an ongoing challenge that it doesn't address and it will be a problem going forward. >> woodruff: paul howard, you said you think it was mostly done for political reasons. why do you say that? >> well, you have to governor facing reelection, as you noted, next year, with low approval ratings right now. he's also moved recently to give bonus payments to state workers and to teachers. i think he saw this as a moment to try and reach across to the center or to the left there florida and boost his reelection chances. it's an enormous flip-flop for the governor given the stance he took earlier against obamacare and the medicaid expansion. it looks to be purely politically expedient. >> woodruff: ron pollock, coming back to you on this question politics. do you believe, as mr. howard does, that that's the reason? >> well, it's a factor. why would a governor from
5:54pm
florida say to his citizens "we're going to spend tax money, we're going to send it to washington and that money that goes to washington should go to california and new york and ohio to help their folks get health care coverage but we're not going to do it in florida." >> woodruff: in fact, that's the argument the other republican governors have made. >> absolutely. let's get back to who benefits from this. you were touching on that a minute ago. i think you used the term meager, the benefits are not huge in florida. just -- to put in the just a few words, how much benefit does this mean for people -- low income individuals? >> this is going to be a lifeline. all together in terms of people eligible for coverage as a result of this expansion it's 1.8 million people. now, quite a few less might get it because they may not know about it. they have to get enrolled but this means these folks who are
5:55pm
newly eligible for coverage for the first time can get good coverage and well in able to afford it. so this is a big deal. >> woodruff: paul howard, how do you see that? how do you see the difference this is going to make for those individuals with disabilities or low incomes? >> well, obviously it's a challenge. you know, nationally the congressional budget office pointed out most of the people who are going to be affected by the enrollment under the affordable care act are young and healthy. so the sliver of patients that have chronic diseases or chronic illnesses you want to reach out to, it's a smallortion of people that wll get expanded coverage. i caution just a little bit. medicaid faces challenges in many states because it has low reimbursement for primary care physician enrollment so medicaid patients have good coverage on paper, they're going to have challenges reaching specialists and getting care for complex conditions. so that's a bit of a mixed bag here. it looks terrific on paper, good coverage on paper, the more complex problems, the people who should be most concerned about will have the most trouble getting high quality care. >> woodruff: are you saying you
5:56pm
dispute that 1.8 million number we heard from mr. pollock? >> no, i don't dispute the number. what i'm saying is tat of the people who are uninsured in states like florida, the vast majority of them are going to be young and healthy. the c.b.o. has said that in its most recent update in its estimate of medicaid costs. so these people don't have insurance, we need to find a way to get the people covered but medicaid as a vehicle for getting them that coverage from my perspective is the wrong way to go. >> woodruff: how do you respond? >> this covers people throughout the age spectrum. it's not just young people. and by the way, i think getting young people into coverage is terrific because these are folks who are less likely to need care so the costs for those people is less expensive. but this is going to help people whether they're 40 or 50 so it's not simply young people. this is going to be across the board. this creates a floor under which nobody can call in terms of their eligibility for medicaid. >> woodruff: paul howard, how
5:57pm
about the rest of obamacare? what is left now for the states to decide. we know there are the health care changes and without getting into all the t details about that how much of an advance is this r getting obamace instituted. >> from the perspective of the states i think ron is right. states are looking at a no-win situation. if they don't expand under medicaid they're looking at their tax dollars going to other states that have expanded. the law will face a number of challenges. i think exchanges are going to be an ongoing challenge. a number of insurers said they won't participate. the cost problem of coverage is something that hasn't been solved. the c.b.o. and other organizations, independent analysts have noted health care costs continue to rise. finly the problem of physician access under the law is going to be a challenge. so implementation is going to gohr go forward. a number of states will continue to hold out and let the federal government operate the exchanges and see what happens. i think you'll see a mixed bag
5:58pm
on medicaid expansion as well. so from here on out we'll see challenges on implementation and costs that won't be resolved to anyone's liking in the next few years. >> woodruff: how do you see, ron pollock, who what's left of obama, what's left to be done and accomplished. >> now we have to implement this legislation effectively. since the legislation passed in 2010 we had a very ctentious debate and there was a question as to whether the affordable care act would survive. well, the supreme court held that it's constitutional. president obama won reelection. so now it's clearly the law of the land and for all of us now we've got to try to make sure it gets implemented effectively state after state. i think that will happen and it certainly will happen in the timely manner starting january 2014. >> woodruff: and you're saying what's happened today and these other states, especially those with republican governors which were not expected potentially to go along with mecaid expansion, this will make a difference? >> i think it's going to make a huge difference i think the
5:59pm
dominos are falling. i think you'll see many republican governors doing it. 100% paid by the federal government and the states are saving money in terms of their cause for uncompensated care, this is a good deal. >> woodruff: i know we'll come back to this in the future. ron pollock in washington, paul howard in new york, we thank you both. >> thank you. >> suarez: we return to the conflict in syria where more than 50 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in a damascus car bombing today. we have a report narrated by lindsey hilsum of "independent television news." >> reporter: at least three bombs exploded in downtown damascus this morning, a coordinated assault designed to kill and maim. a car which the syrian government said was carrying five bombs exploded just outside the headquarters of president
6:00pm
assad's baath party, dozens killed, hundreds injured, devastating damage, more evidence that even in the heart of the capital syrian civilians aren't safe. survivors shown on syrian state tv blamed jabat al nusra, the jihadi wing of the rebels linked to al qaeda. >> ( translated ): this is terrorism. it's murder. it's un-islamic. you're telling me it was done by al nusra? i hope god never forgives them. >> ( translated ): we think al nusra and the wahabi terrorists did this. >> reporter: a rebel video reveals that the last man shows up frequently on state t.v. often as an eye-witness sometimes as a soldier. he's spouting government propaganda. the video exposing him is rebel propaganda. nonetheless, in recent weeks al nusra says it has carried out bombings in the capital.
6:01pm
they said nothing about today, while the more moderate syrian national coalition condemned the blass. in the damascus suburbs today, rebels were firing missiles at the army general command headquarters. this video apparently shows fighters who've come from chechnya. the koran speaks of syria as a holy land, it's becoming a magnet for jihadis, the original opposition's talk of democracy overwhelmed. having backed the opposition, western countries are in no position to broker a ceasefire or a peace deal. this is a war with no victors but many victims, where neither side is strong enough to prevail and no end is in sight. >> suarez: margaret warner picks up the story from there. >> warner: for more about today's bombing and how it fits into the broader balance between the forces in syria, i'm joined by zeina karam, acting beirut bureau chief for the associated
6:02pm
press. and zeina, welcome. this is, i understand, the third straight day of attacks at government-affiliated sites thi damascus, yet the government appears still to remain in control. what is the state of play between the rebels and the government right now in the city? >> well, yes, as you say, this is the third day we've seen bombings and mortars and targets inside the syrian capital. now i do know the syrian rebels have been trying to push in the past month but they remain severely outgunned by the syrian regime and what these mortar attacks and bombings suggest the that instead of immediate response the rebel forces are resorting more to attrition and loosening the government's grip on the capital. the attacks in the last few days have certainly shattered the sense of normalcy that the
6:03pm
syrian regime has tried to maintain in damascus. >> warner: do the rebels control some parts of the city and if so which parts? >> the rebels control parts of the southern and eastern parts of the damascus. in the past month we've seen bels try to push the way forward io damascus from the northeast and, in fact, they have seized several army checkpoints on the highway linking the capital with northern syria. but those advances have largely been reversed now and the government is mostly back in firm control of the capital. but in recent days we've seen the rebels launch mortar attacks from these areas into central damascus. >> warner: so what can you tell us about the rebels' overall strategy for the country and how key is -- do they want to seize control of damascus and are they trying to drive the assad regime
6:04pm
from power? what is their overall game plan? >> for the rebels, damascus is the prize -- the seat of the assad's government power and this is what they want to get at we've seen after they've lost momentum in recent weeks the rebels have had some strategic victories say cross country. they've been gaining some momentum again but we're still a long way off before they can achieve any breaks, though, because they remain severely outgunned by the government. >> warner: the reports were there that there were lots of civilians in the bombing. has there been backlash by some of the rebel groups? >> al qaeda and al nusra have claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past.
6:05pm
these kinds of attacks which came along to civilians in a way they strengthen supporters of assad and they make many syrians distrustful. but we saw today the syrian national coalition, the main opposition group they condemned the bombing and they blamed the government indirectly for allowing groups in syria. >> warner: well, zeina karam of the associate press ineirut, thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: online we have a photo essay dispatched by a reuters photographer who spent a month on the front lines in syria. >> woodruff: now, to our weeklong focus on guns, violence and mental health concerns in the wake of the connecticut shootings. tonight, special correspondent trimmel gomes from florida public radio/wfsu-fm looks at
6:06pm
the increase in gun ownership in that political battleground state. his report is part of the pbs "after newtown" series. >> reporter: florida is known for many things-- its sandy beaches, warm weather but the state's nickname of being the sunshine state, is getting stiff competition by some who call it the gunshine state. >> florida is very pro-gun. >> reporter: charley strickland is a sheriff's lieutenant and part owner of the soon to be built, talon shooting range and training facility. >> we have a republican governor, republican legislature, and so we sort of lead the country in a lot of the new gun laws, castle doctrine, stand your ground statutes and naturally getting conceal carry permit is common place. >> reporter: a carry and conceal permit allows a florida resident to c cry a weaeaout of sight of another person, except in schools and a few other buildings. >> our background is teaching people to get conceal carry permits.
6:07pm
we know why they are getting them; primarily to protect themselves. women are being taught to twist a finger and stomp on a toe but nothing really is truly equalizer is a small petit woman with someone who is 6'3" 230 pounds who's angry except a firearm. >> reporter: one woman who's been making sure that equalizer is in place is the leader of the gun lobby in florida, marion hammer. in 1987, hammer received the first carry and conceal permit issued in florida. she lobbied hard for florida to be the first state to make it easier to get gun permits and later went on to be the first woman to head the national rifle association. >> florida was the first state to pass a "shall issue law" and basically what that means is that unless you were prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm, the state shall issue it as long as you have no
6:08pm
criminal record, no record of mental abuse or mental illness, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, just the standard prohibitors. >> reporter: 25 years later, there's another first. more than one million people have active concealed weapons permits. and like in the rest of the nation, gun sales here have spiked. gun dealers in december reported daily sales that matched a months worth of business. gun owner philip vause likes his states liberal laws, but doesn't want florida to be known as the gunshine state. >> i think it's an adultery to use that terminology, we are the sunshine state, we are not a gun state. let's take one place for instance, let's get off of florida for a minute, illinois, chicago, has the toughest gun laws in all 50 states. where are the most murders committed? chicago, illinois, with the
6:09pm
toughest gun control. they have the worst crime rate. i think you are slandering the name that i'm proud of. i've been here 77 years and to me it's not a gun state, it's a state that has guns and they are legal. >> reporter: indeed overall, florida has seen a 33% decline in gun violence since 2007, but roughly 70% of homicides were tied to guns. nationally, violent crimes of all types have been declining since the 1990s, but two-thirds of all homicides in the u.s. are tied to guns. in a 1987 law giving the state jurisdiction over gun permitting, the process has been overseen by the state agriculture department but because it is not a law enforcement agency, the department lacks access to the fbi crime database. there are an average of ten arrests a day in the state of
6:10pm
people who obtained weapons despite having a criminal record. florida also sells conceal and carry permits to people out of state. that has allowed some to skirt their local, more strict gun laws. pennsylvania recently changed their laws, after violent crimes were linked to those with florida permits, to require anyone in that state with a florida permit to be a legal florida resident. barbara peterson would like to see florida laws change as well. she blames the gun lobby for preventing any attempts to restrict gun access or to allow oversight. she is executive director of the first amendment foundation which tracks the state legislature, including the evolution of gun laws in the state. we're not trying to infringe on anybody's right to own and bear arms as long as they're legally owned that's fine. but we should have the opportunity to oversee those agencies and hold them accountable, those who are approving those permits, we have no accountability in the stem right now. >> reporter: she is fighting a tough battle in florida where the state legislature instead
6:11pm
might liberalize the conceal weapon law to make it possible to carry guns in more locations. many in the state also oppose with president barack obama's proposal calling for restoring a ban on military style assault weapons. >> no, we don't need to ban the assault weapon because there is no assault weapon. what are you going to ban, a hammer, screw driver, saw? it's the same thing. i don't categorize an a.k. as an assault weapon because i'm not going to assault anybody. you don't take a racecar driver and categorize him with a drunk driver, they both drive cars so i don't see the comparison at all. >> reporter: now with more than a million active permits, that means about one in 14 or 7% of adult floridians have the right to carry a concealed firearm. while praised by gun advocates, those numbers are troubling to some law enforcement officers. >> obviously, it means there are more opportunities in the community for guns to be in the hands of the bad guys. >> reporter: walter mcneil is chief of police for quincy. it's a town of nearly 7,000 residents west of tallahassee with a violent crime rate higher than the national average.
6:12pm
mcneil, a former president of the international association of chiefs of police, was part of a group of law enforcement officials that recently met with vice president joe biden to discuss national changes to gun access. >> those weapons often fall in the hands of bad folks in our community. what that means is more opportunities for police officers to come into contact with those carrying a weapon. and that creates a degree of concern and a level of tactical operations for police in terms of how do i make sure this isn't a bad guy i'm dealing with and the weapon he or she has now isn't going to be used against me. >> reporter: 165 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2011. that was the highest number on record and florida saw the highest number of officers killed-- 14, most of them by guns.
6:13pm
to help protect citizens and police, chief mcneil argues there needs to be more background checks on anyone trying to get a gun. >> the issue of background checks is a no brainer. any person that purchases a weapon from a friend or family member or gun show goes to a gunshop-- everyone of those circumstances there should be a background check done on that person. to us in law enforcement, it seems to be a simple solution. >> reporter: there's another thing that worries police officers about all those guns. their use in florida's stand your ground law-- a law that got national attention when it was used by george zimmerman to defend the shooting of trayvon martin last year. the law allows the use of deadly force if an individual has a reasonable fear of being killed or seriously injured. >> when the "stand your ground" law was first contemplated, florida police took the position it was wrong headed and not the thing to do.
6:14pm
i would submit to you today, having seen the carnage that has occurred on our street we should move away from that legislation today. >> reporter: since the law was passed in 2005, the number of justifiable deaths has nearly tripled to an average of 35 a year. trayvon martin's mother recently went to the legislature with a call to repeal the "stand your ound" law. >> we need to get rid of this law, we need to do something serious about this law. as a parent, i wouldn't want you to stand in my shoes because it is hard, it is difficult. >> reporter: a bill has been introduced in the state legislature to repeal the law, but it is given little chance of passing. both sides say there needs to be a sensible approach to tackling gun violence, but in this gun loving state, it's hard to see any major changes to legislation on the horizon.
6:15pm
>> suarez: now a different perspective on guns and public safety from young people who participate in the "newshour's" student reporting labs program. hari sreenivasan has that story. >> sreenivasan: we brought together high school students from around the country into a google hangout to talk about recent gun proposals that affect schools, the connection between video games and violence and what can beone to prevent mass shootings like the one that took place in newtown, connecticut. we asked him about recent proposals such as arming teachers. jacqueline is from texas. >> i wouldn't trust a teacher who's trained to teach to protect me. we also have three armed constants al our school and i would trust -- constables and i would trust somebody that is trained to protect me to protect me. so i feel safe with the constables and i feel like they
6:16pm
can do the job better than a teacher. >> reporter: spencer baldwin is from shenandoah, iowa, a place he describes as a rural community with hunters and farmers. >> a lot of our teachers are already gun owners. they have conceal-and-carry permits. they've been trained to do that kind of thing and i think that having -- in every classroom wouldn't necessarily be a danger to the students at all. >> sreenivasan: students also talked about the changes they've seen since newtown. many schools are increasing restrictions on who can enter the school, times can that kids can go off campus and they're trying to ep idividua frm walking the halls alone. >> our school has implemented a closed school campus where students can not leave the school for lunch anymore and not too many people can get into the school without going through the front office now they have teachers guarding the door where students can not speak out or
6:17pm
cannot sneak anything in without teachers being around. >> sreenivasan: patrick who goes to school in los angeles describes what he sees as a useful tool. >> we have random searches so what happens is an admiistrator will come in and ask for the attendance list and they'll do every third person or every one who has a birthday in the month of february and they'll search their locker, their backpack and it's completely random. >> sreenivasan: the students had a lot to say about whether video games cause real gun violence. el lee from los angeles think it is underlying causes are more complicated. >> i think we've been witnessing violence for years, whether in reality through the media or video games and i don't think that's a first-hand affect. a lot of the shooters that we know might not even be interested in that stuff. i go to school with a lot of teenaged boys who are into that but they would never dream of owning a weapon. >> sreenivasan: jacqueline? >> i feel like it's a false placement of blame because other
6:18pm
countries have the exact same video games, they have the exact same movies, exact same cartoons that children and teenagers and adults are watching and those other countries don't the same violence as we do. and i feel like it's basically just the fear ingrained in american's minds that we need that gun to protect ourselves when in reality it's kind of putting you o a victim of crime. >> sreenivasan: a separate group of students said families and parents have to counter the effects of a violent media culture which can desensitize people to the brutality around them. one student believes media violence can be desensitizing. >> when they see in video games they're killing people or see it on a movie it kind of makes the whole violence thing even hearing it on the news like it's not real. >> i don't think it will affect someone enough to take up a gun and kill someone just because they played a video game. >> disagree. because i think if you were raised on a game like grand theft auto, you played it when
6:19pm
you were six years old and now you're playing something like call of duty now, you're a lot more comfortable with the idea of a weapon or a gun. especially if you don't have parents or you don't have someone tell dwlug this is the wrong thing or this -- you shouldn't be -- this is just a game. >> sreenivasan: gerald, you had your hand up. >> yeah, i don't think that we should legislate against a culture or cultures and i'm not comfortable with restricting choice. i think if it's the parents' choice and if it's the child's choice to go and buy that video game. >> i don't always agree with, you know, a six-year-old, for instance, i know a few playing grand theft auto. but i won't say that video games themselves are the problem. >> sreenivasan: madison, go ahead. >> i agree with ben about video games numbing us as people to when we hear about violent things. you don't feel as much as you would before. like playing the video game.
6:20pm
t without having playing these video games you probably feel more when you hear about tragedies like these. >> sreenivasan: thank you all for participating in this student reporting lab's google hangout chat by the newshour. thanks for joining us. >> woodruff: you can watch the full conversations with the students speaking candidly about guns on our website. also online, you can explore our entire week's worth of coverage for the "after newtown" series. that's at newshour.pbs.org. >> suarez: finally tonight, an assessment of the state of movies and the state of the business, as hollywood gets set to congratulate itself with the academy awards this sunday. by and large, this was a year where the nine films nominated for best picture arguably generated more critical praise than usual and several proved to be solid commercial hits. some also generated plenty of
6:21pm
controversy too, including "zero dark thirty," "lincoln," "argo" and "django unchained." tony scott of the "new york times" has been reviewing and writing about these films, plus hundreds of others. he joins us now. tony, is this an unusually good year to go to the movies and does that make it an unusually hard year to pick winners? >> i think it was a good year. i mean, i think there's so many different kinds of movies that come out in every year that it's sometimes hard to rank them. i think it was a very good year for mainstream moes that grown-ups might want to go see. there's been a knock against the hollywood studios for the last decade or so that they're mostly interested in teenagers, in action franchises for the international marketplace, in sequels and superheroes and so on. this year a lot of movies,
6:22pm
"lincoln" life of pi" "les miserables," "zero dark thirty" found audiences and as well as a lot of critical acclaim. so i think it is a strong year for the kind of movies that we were accustomed to seeing around oscar time in decades past but haven't been as thick on the ground recently. >> suarez: "around oscar time." might this part b what some critics see a the gaming of a calendar? the concentration of what you would call movies grown-ups want to see around the time that would make them oscar eligible? >> there's no question about that. i think it is a distorting affect that the academy awards and the whole phenomenon of the awards season and awards campaign has had. that is, for the first nine months of the year there's very little for grown-ups to go and
6:23pm
see and critics find themselves falling into despair wondering are the movies dead, is it all over, where are the great movies of yesteryear. and then around the time of the toronto film festival in september all of a sudden these very ambitious and creative and interesting and serious-minded movies pop up and they kind of overwhelm the multiplexs for a while so there's a great kind of famine in the first part of the year and then the last three month there is's a big feast. and that certainly happened this year. i mean, with the exception, i guess, of "beasts of the southern wild" an indy movie that came out of sun dance and was released in the late spring early summer, all of the movies that we've been talking about, "lincoln," "argo" "zero dark thirty" "django unchained" right down the list came out in novber and december. so they definitely clog up the system and that's all about the
6:24pm
prestige and the hope for box office bounce that awards consideration will bring. >> suarez: some were gripping, beautifully acted, beautifully shot but they deal with some tough themes, don't they? slavery and revenge? emancipation, torture, mental illness. there's a lot of darkness there among the nine nominees. >> yeah, there certainly is. and there's a lot of tough and interesting political themes as well: slavery, terrorism and torture as well as some very painful personal stories. one of my favorite movies, the french language film "amor" is a really devastating drama about an elderly couple and how they deal with the life's decline. and i was -- i was amazed and impressed that that actually got not just the nomination for best foreign language film but for others as well. but there is -- you know, there's a comedy in the mix.
6:25pm
"silver linings play book" which yes, does deal with mental illness but in a very, i think, hollywood friendly light hearted affirming way. it's a romantic comedy really in the screwball tradition. i think there's also "life of pi" and "les miserables" which gives something to fans of sort of spiritual splendor and musical spectacle. so there's quite a range. a few years ago, the academy opened up the best picture field to allow for more than the traditional five nominees so now we have nine. that represents a pretty nice spectrum of what movies are today and what the american film industry thinks is worth rising. >> suarez: who do you like for best picture, quickly, before we go? >> i think it's going to be "argo." i think that "argo" has kind of march through the guilds. if you'd asked me six weeks ago i would have said "lincoln." but not ben affleck's because
6:26pm
not nominated for best director. that will probably still go to steven spielberg. >> suarez: tony sctt of the "new york times," thanks a lot. >> pleasure, ray. >> suarez: do you think you know this year's films, play our oscar quiz online on our home page. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: the c.d.c. reported possible progress against obesity. new research found kids are consuming fewer calories, and fast food makes up a smaller share of adult diets. a new winter storm blasted its way across the nation's midsection, bringing heavy snow, freezing rain and even thunder and lightning. and a car bombing in damascus, syria killed more than 50 people and wounded well over 200 others. online we follow up on last night's "mind of a rampage killer" special. hari sreenivasan tells us more. >> sreenivasan: miles o'brien spoke with liza long, the mom
6:27pm
and writer who penned the viral blog "i am adam lanza's mother," about her own son's struggles. you can watch miles's conversation with her son about his rage, in our "after newtown" series. on making sense, paul solman offers steps to find the right financial adviser for you. and be a part of our coverage-- share your story about the voting rights act of 1965. go to our website or call 703- 594-6pbs for details. all that and more is on our website newshour.pbs.org. ray? >> suarez: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm ray suarez. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks among others. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and the william and flora
6:28pm
hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioningponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
6:29pm